I’m often surprised at how many companies in engineering and science have a sales and marketing operation which has too much in common with selling cornflakes. Now, it might be that your customers do buy whatever you sell constantly, and maybe it’s all about keeping them loyal, or trying to persuade them to switch over to you from a competitor. If so, you might be wise to advertise in short, major bursts. A magazine front cover or an oversized exhibition stand might be just the job.
But what if your customers buy whatever it is you sell on an infrequent basis? I’d guess that’s more likely for most of you. All you’re going to get from your one-off expensive advertising blast is interest from the people who happen to need your product that week. Anyone looking around at suppliers next week, or the one after that, may not know you exist. You’d surely be better off spreading out your marketing budget so that you’re always there when prospects are looking for a supplier.
OK, so far, so obvious. The customer decides when they want to buy, not you. However, I think that some companies are so confident in the ability of their sales team and the advantages of their product that they forget this. I’ll be honest with you, we did.
We spent two years after starting this business, thinking that what was on offer was compelling enough that we could walk in almost anywhere and if they liked what they saw, we’d come out with another pleased new client. What surprised us was not the number of companies who said no – that’s life – but the number of those saying no who came back to us, months or even years later, to say: “Now we’re ready to use you.”
Once the penny had dropped, we realised that the secret was to get the message out there and to keep it in front of prospects, permanently. Now, when people say to us: “You’ve done well to build the business up to over 60 clients”, I think: “Yes, but 98% of the people who get this email from me every day still don’t use us to run their Google AdWords campaigns. Many will want to do so in the future, and when they do, we don’t have to worry that they might not even consider us.”
What about you? Are you going to ‘be there’ when your prospects next decide to research the market for a supplier – whether it’s next week, next month or next year? Where do they look? Are you there – permanently?